In 2004, the ministerial summit in Mexico drew attention to the historic neglect of health policy and systems research (HPSR) and called for increased funding, investment in national institutional capacity for HPSR, and resources for selected priority research topics. On the basis of meeting discussions, published reports, and available data from research funders and organisations in low-income and middle-income countries, we discuss how HPSR has evolved since the summit in Mexico. Funding for HPSR, particularly in low-income countries, is mainly supported by international and bilateral organisations. Increased interest in health systems has translated into increased support for HPSR. However, small grants and lack of coordination between funders inhibit capacity development, and substantial gaps remain between institutional capacities of high-income and low-income countries. Lack of national capacity is judged to be the key constraint to the development of HPSR. Recommendations from the summit in Mexico remain pertinent, and momentum towards their achievement must be accelerated through the ministerial forum in Mali and beyond.
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